Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wonder Boy

It was like a Marc Newson eclipse on the weekend: first, a way too short interview on the Australia show “Arts Sunday”, then, on the pages of Wallpaper, in all their glory, his designs for industrial denim brand G-Star, called strangely enough …. “G Star by Marc Newson”.

He’s back … but then he never left really did he?

I’ve had a love affair with Newson since I first locked eyes with his infamous “Lockheed” lounge in 1984, plus it helped that he was incredibly beautiful with his long hair and incredible fashion sense. It’s incredible to think that all these years later, his work ‘holds’ its design … a fact he concurred with in his interview, but then as he also added “My job as a designer is to constantly be ahead of everyone else”. While we play catch up to his aesthetic, he has moved on to bigger and better visuals.

Newson’s relationship with G Star commenced in 2003 and to this new collection he brings his expected “retro futuristic” eye to basic garments applying what he calls an “architectonic” approach where design is “translated into physicality with near invisible seams, basic monotones of black, white and grey with a mix of materials ranging from the classic leather and wool to the more futuristic laminated Gore-tex”. My god, the man has even turned his eye to the buttons.

His design interests are varied (planes, sneakers, watches, cutlery, interiors, dishracks) and in February this year he exhibited at the gargantuan Gargosian Gallery in New York (his dealer) in the show “Marble” alongside such greats as Brancusi, Moore, Giacometti, Noguchi, Bourgeois and Koons. Here, Newson both exposed and toyed with the fact his designs sit comfortably within both the art and design arenas. The viewer is forced to mentally volley: are these functional objects, or are these artworks?

Is there anything this design genius cannot do?

How about turning your attention to our cities Marc? I’m thinking perhaps the love child of Logan’s Run and Saarinen.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

De La Hot

She lives on the periphery of superstardom, but then, anyone who sees themselves as a true artist would want to remain there wouldn’t they? I’m talking about the American actor Paz de la Heurta.

She came to my attention via her intriguing sense of unkempt style: fashion aware, but in a messed up, sleazy/sexy way – then I got intrigued about who she is, what she thinks, her career.

Her career to date has been somewhat patchy, but it’s a career that is building – her most recent efforts include a hotter than hot sex addict in “Choke”, Jim Jarmusch’s “Limits of Control” where she’s permanently naked and holding a gun – yum. She is about to be seen as a stripper in French provocateur Gaspar Noé’s “Enter the Void”. It’s a career trajectory that reminds me of Asia Argento, with a little less grit.

Her responses are mostly cliched. When asked “Did you always want to be an actress?” she declared:

Yeah. It was always, for me, very therapeutic. It’s where I worked out all my shit when I was a kid, and now as well. But I’m also really passionate about life, and experiencing as much as I can in this lifetime. And I feel like you kind of have to live life to its fullest in order to be a good actor. Draw on experiences. The more experiences the better, and I really have had a lot of experiences in life, even at my young age.


But then it’s not really her thoughts on world peace I am interested in: it’s her performances, her look, her style. Paz is beautiful, but not in a completely obvious way and she has a style that does not shout out “a stylist put this together for me”. There is a dirtiness about her that drives me wild with desire.

With a fantasy list of directors to work with that includes Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro and Pedro Almodovar, things are about to get very interesting …

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Foamist

I am super excited about an exhibition of New Zealand artist, Peter Robinson’s work, to be held at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia in July.

Robinson's work originally explored issues of identity and ethnicity: personal and racial issues discussed in terms of his part-Maori heritage, but “his more recent work has shifted from this rhetoric and the weight of interpretation, to explore and celebrate the materiality of the mediums he works with” (Sutton Gallery website).

This latest work will hardly please the conservationists amongst us as it immerses itself in the infinite possibilities of polystyrene: pedestrian material and major pollutant. It’s an ingenious idea as the Artspace spiel explains “lightweight, negligible in mass yet physically substantial, able to pack out large spaces or articulate delicate forms, shaped in detail with sharp white lines”.

Robinson is an art schizophrenic. One minute we are party to the exquisite, delicate nature of his geisha-esque “waterfall” like drapings, the next we bear witness to the brutalist forms of a large rectangular solid, seemingly carved out by some anonymous anally retentive masculine entity and left in-situ.

It's his moment. In 2008 he won New Zealand’s prestigious Walters Prize and more recently he completed a residency at Sydney’s Artspace which produced the work “Polymer Monolith I” (pictured), not to mention various projects and shows overseas.

I wonder what he could do with my bean bag fill?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Artful Excess

Talk about stealing someone’s thunder, or alternatively, adding to the art-gorge going on right now in Venice, the new art monolith to money and creativity, the Punta della Dogana opened the day before this year’s Venice Biennale. Cruel or smart?

Housing major, major works by major, major artists (McCarthy, Catellan, Schutte, Kelley, the Chapmans, Gober and Gonzales Torres to name but a few) it is a sister/brother to Pinault’s first monolith, Palazzo Grassi.

The Punta della Dogana is a promontory at the entrance to St Mark’s Basin, where the Grand Canal meets the Giudecca Canal. The buildings of the Dogana di Mare were built in the late 17th century by architect Giuseppe Benoni. Where Benoni left off, Japanese architect Tadao Ando has taken off, completely transforming the builder’s interior with his signature cement blocking. It’s all Venetian glamour on the outside, and grey minimalism on the inside.

There are detractors already (the Boston Globe):

Pinault’s two displays of his splashy collection, at the Punta della Dogana and the Palazzo Grassi, are a case in point: They smack of an arriviste’s susceptibility to bloated works by fashionable names.

Criticism of the rich, beautiful, stylish or creative is not my arena, so Punta della Dogana, here I come.

I feel the heel

The Crystal Plumage loves this selection from the latest Topshop offerings. Are you feeling the love for the Union Jack platform wedges as I am?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Virginal Bombing

It was love at first sight for Christopher Kane’s debut “pre-collection” show.

It is just the right dose of death and pretty that demands we pay attention. The images of nuclear explosions were sourced by Kane from “free public-access photos on the U.K. Ministry of Defense Web site”.

Isn’t this mix of raging experimentation, cheeky subversive humour and craft exactly why we continue to look to London for inspiration?

However, there is another nasty edge to the entire proceedings – those amazing shoes are not for sale. The designer and his creative crew “cobbled” them together with gaffer tape and bits and bobs, as they simply could not find the right match.


Prince of Shingles

I opened my latest copy of Wallpaper* Magazine (which has returned to form thank god) and was beyond taken by the article on the home American architect Bart Prince has designed for Joe and Etsuko Price in Southern California.

With its cathedral-like use of wood and penchant for shingles and shag covered walls, at first glance, it reads like a den for playboys and porn kings, but it is its hefty dose of intellect that truly saves its soul.

He works out of Albuquerque, New Mexico and he has a concise way of discussing his work:

When I say that the design ‘responds’ to the site, client, climate, materials etc. and that the design ‘grows’ from this situation, it doesn’t mean these things ‘happen’ by themselves. It’s the mind of the architect that brings these ideas together and synthesizes everything into a final scheme. It’s a very complex process and far from ‘winging it’! In fact it is a much more difficult process that the standard so-called design process used by many. You are dealing with materials, structure, ideas, space while solving complex design programs presented by the client. It takes years of experience to make this process look easy!

He has also described his houses as “butterflies alighting in the landscape — as much a part of nature as trees and rocks, but soaring free of conventional restraints and familiar forms”. In his hands wood, glass and stone are no longer inanimate building materials, but take on a life of their own.

What I love about his work is it completely nails that nexus between good and bad taste that we all crave. Anyone who is constantly searching to be jolted by a new style, will absolutely ‘get’ these homes. In some ways it is no major surprise Prince is hot right now, because as the earth’s environmental safety slips conceptually out of our grip, we are turning to all things “natural” as some kind of comforting symbol of the need to redeem or hopefully, save, ourselves.

I want to live in an Armadillo.